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   >> Interpretation
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Sysiyo
(thunder ocean)
04/03/03 05:17 AM
Modern Love  

I'll start off by saying that I'm not yet sure weather or not this interepretation should be taken seriously. Well, that's up to you to judge.

Someone said ages ago on a thread that I cannot remember that Modern Love was a phase used in the gay circles for homosexual love. that got me thinking, is Modern Love actually a "hidden message" to Bowie's sexually confused fans? Looking at the lyrics, the song starts with a most obvious hint towards this:

I know when to go out
And when to stay in
Get things done


Or in other words, I know when it's acceptable to admit that I'm bisexual, and when to hide it to get to be a huge pop star. Soon after that, he also reassures us But things don't really change, his still what he is. But yet, other parts of the lyrics give the impression that he is torn between homo- and heteroxyality, as David sings he's Never gonna fall for Modern love but yet

Modern love - walks beside me
Modern love - walks on by


Perhaps meaning that no matter how much Bowie tries to deny it, he will be always remembered as the bisexual rock star. But still, Bowie tells us there will be no confessions.

Well, that's that. As said, don't take too seriously.



Leshka
(electric tomato)
04/03/03 09:40 AM
You know, that's not too bad new [re: Sysiyo]  

Usually I don't like to analyze songs too much because I end up not enjoying them anymore. However, this interpretation seems more like Bowie had an "inside joke" to tell.

He's not sure he wants to take the plunge and come out once and for all, since in most places, people assume that because you say you're (fill in the blank), that's the only thing about you that matters. Hey, Bowie knows that first hand from his "coming out." However, he doesn't want to just hide this piece of information and pretend it never happened (whether or not it's true is not as important as whether or not he says it,) so it's always with him.

OK, so I'm rambling. The main point is, this interpretation has made me appreciate a song that I didn't really like before. Thank you.

-------------------
Common sense is a virtue.
-------------------
The Very Nerve - download their songs!


bowiefanpeter
(acolyte)
04/03/03 02:35 PM
Re: You know, that's not too bad new [re: Leshka]  

Has Bowie been a gay icon to anyone since the 75 period onwards? Y'know, besides Boy George drooling over him at every oppurtunity.

BFP



LaughingGnoome
(kook)
04/03/03 09:23 PM
Re: Modern Love new [re: Sysiyo]  

Ive never much liked this song, but i have often been curious about what it is about. Modern Love meaning Homosexuality has the ring of truth to me. The line "I catch a paper boy", also suggests homosexuality, especially if its a "paper boy" he is catching instead of a "paper" boy! "Things dont really change" - as in homosexuality is still not fully tolerated. This could also mean that the current knowledge says (the paper) that you cant change your sexuality "things dont really change", but i prove it wrong - "im standing in the wind". The "wind" represents change - new experiences blowing through the staleness, representing homosexual experiences. But Bowie will not commit to just that lifestyle, "never wave bye bye".

Theres no sign of life" - is an analogy to a crop field. Nothing grows there, "theres no sign of life" - meaning he cannot have children this way, a gay relationship is infertile. "Im lying in the rain" - suggesting he is having a heterosexual relationship. Rain brings life to the field. But he will not be washed away in the process, ie he will not commit fully.

The lines "When to go out" represents making a choice between a hetero or homo relationship, making this clear. "When to stay in" - means keeping his sexual business to himself.

Think of the lines "But I never wave bye bye" couldnt this mean -> "But i never wave boy - boy" ? This could refer to him never stating his bisexuality formally "wave", Then he says "But i try i try", which means he tried both genders i try i try (twice). Which brings us on to how "i never wave bye bye" should be viewed or heard - "i never wave bi bi .

The lines

"Modern love - walks beside me
Modern love - walks on by
Modern love - gets me to the church on time"

The above lines represent homosexual relationships. He admits he had them "walks beside me", but they didnt last "walks on by" (walks on bi ?). Made him want to think about settling down with a girl.

The lines

"Church on time - terrifies me
Church on time - makes me party
Church on time - puts my trust in god and man"

The above part is about heterosexual relationships. "Church on time" = marriage. He isnt impressed with being purely heterosexual, too boring "makes me party". (remember how he describes homosexuality - as a new experience, a breath of fresh air - "wind").

" God and man - no confessions
God and man - no religion
God and man - don't believe in modern love"

According to everything he is taught by priests and the church, whatever he does he should not choose homosexuality.

"Theres no sign of life" could refer to the doom of all gay couples (back then anyway) to never be able to have biological children. Then "Its just the power to charm" further hammers this idea home, there is nothing long lasting, like making a life, in that direction.

The analogies he uses for heterosexual and homosexual relationships are to be swept away by the wind, or drowned by the rain. The "rain" in the song represents the female fertility. The wind represents the homosexual lifestyle, this is suggested by the lines, "I catch a paper boy, but things dont really change" - meaning the papers indicate that homosexuality is wrong, "paper" represents conservatism, which is the opposite to the "wind", "wind" represents change and new experiences. As stated above, "I catch the paper boy but things dont really change" - could also mean they tell me you cannot change your sexuality, but here i am proving them wrong, "standing in the wind".

In both cases Wind And Rain can have negative connotations if the person exposed to them goes to far in that (one) direction) - in other words it is best to dabble in both than take either one too far. However they are each good things representing new experiences and rebirth (life) respectively.

So

"I catch a paper boy
But things don't really change
I'm standing in the wind
But I never wave bye-bye"

Represents relationships with men.

and

"There's no sign of life
It's just the power to charm
I'm lying in the rain
But I never wave bye-bye"

Represents relationships with women.

This song is about Bowies bisexuality, and he is stating his belief that it is better to be bisexual, than to commit to either sexuality.

"I dont want to eat, its a waste of time" - The Unknown Junkie

Angel Gone Heathen
(kook)
04/04/03 01:57 PM
Re: Modern Love new [re: Sysiyo]  

While this is all very interesting, I can't bring myself to believe that it's actually what Bowie was thinking when he wrote the song. I have always interpreted it as merely a song about religion, and I don't think Bowie decided to make such a complex song to release as a pop single, and one that would almost surely chart no less. The lyrics, as they have been interpreted here, are way too abstract and it seems like the interpretations were stretched around them in order to fit. Afterall, anything can be interpreted in nearly any way - I don't think this song is about sexuality at all.

-----------

i had my Y chromosome surgically removed!
-the poster formerly known as CDS, now known as strangeDivine's bitch.

LaughingGnoome
(kook)
04/04/03 05:33 PM
Re: Modern Love new [re: Angel Gone Heathen]  

Generally if you can get all the lyrics to fit even sometimes only generally around an interpretation, then it is valid (not necessarily right of course, but at the very least worthy of detailed refutal). If you think it can be interpreted as a religious song go right ahead and show it, and lend credence to your claim.

Im going to go out on a limb here and state my belief that where as before i wasnt sure what the song is about, i am now >90% certain it is about sexuality.

The best way to refute an interpretation is with one of your own, it shows you dont have any prejudices (ie pre-judgements) in your remarks about a song if you can back them up, and proves that you have considered the lyrics in detail.

Because we all of us might have set ideas about what a song is about, and dont like to see those ideas challenged (I have noticed this a number of times and even been the guilty party once or twice)....

Let me ask you, when Bowie mentions "Lying in the rain" or "standing in the wind" do you think he chose those words because they just sound nice and conjure nice mental images? No offense but we give time and effort to our interpretations, at the very least i expect a critic to be able to refute point by point what is suggested, instead of just saying "naw".

As regards my interpretation, id like to add that the lines "I know when to go out I know when to stay in, get things done" - is Bowie stating he is not promiscuous (one of the main accusations levied at him), since going "out" (as i have tried to show above) means engaging in sexual activities with both sexes.

Also "Its not really work, its just the power to charm" - Bowie is saying that his experimentations with both sexes were not part of his pop star career, he didnt just do those things to help his career, he is not a fake.

"Im standing in the wind" "Im lying in the rain" - in both cases he is positioned so as to receive maximum exposure to each element. What can happen if an element becomes too strong? He is either swept away by the wind, or washed away by the rain. Now consider with this the final line in both these parts. "I never wave bye bye".

Now consider "bye bye", which sounds phonetically as bi bi. Now in relation to that, consider "i try i try", as in he tries twice. Bisexual.

What is rain associated with? Especially when we consider the line which appears in the same quartet of lines as rain is mentioned ie "Theres no sign of life". Exactly, rain allows life. Now in the first quartet consider the "wind" and the "paper - boy" doesnt a newspaper reflect societies opinions? The next line is "Things dont really change", indicating that the paper is conservative, as in societies opinions are conservative. Now think of the word "change", what does the wind represent if not change? And what is change if not new experience.

What does the wind do? It howls, it is rough, but it is fun, exciting. Wind brings a kind of aimless freedom to those it sweeps off their feet, but they are not going in any orderly direction, it represents excitement and action but ultimately can lead you away from an ordered meaningful (struggling for PC words here) life (as in starting a familly).

What is rain? It caresses, it is gentle and nourishing. But if you are overburdened beneath a downpour you lose freedom to move.

Now finally consider "theres no sign of life, its just the power to charm" - here he is criticisng the homosexual lifestyle (not bisexual), besides commenting on the childless nature of that lifestyle, he is also comparing it to a shallow thing "just the power to charm".



"I dont want to eat, its a waste of time" - The Unknown Junkie

Angel Gone Heathen
(kook)
04/04/03 05:54 PM
Re: Modern Love new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

Escuse moi, but I did not need you to fly off the handle at me, I was not saying you are wrong, I merely stated that I disagree with you. The fact that you act as though I have insulted you when I merely gave an explanation as to why I thought your interpretation was incorrect is rather ludicrous, would you not agree? I was not trying to piss you off or say your interpretation was most definitely incorrect, nor did I imply that you are an idiot or anything of the nature for having such an interpretation. I do not want to win this little battle over the interpretation of Modern Love, a song which at this moment in time I do not feel like writing out an interpretation for. I am not going to try to prove you wrong because I can't do so - I merely disagree with your view on things.

Do not act as though I have done something to offend you when indeed all that I have done is tell you that I find my interpretation of the song, which I am not obligated to post, to be the correct one.

I would, however, like to add:

In reply to:

Also "Its not really work, its just the power to charm" - Bowie is saying that his experimentations with both sexes were not part of his pop star career, he didnt just do those things to help his career, he is not a fake.



If this song is about Bowie accepting his bisexuality, then why, during the Lets Dance era, did he so vehemently deny it? I don't think the lyrics that you are interpreting as such would be written by Bowie, such a bold statement considering the fact that he denied his continuance is bisexual promiscuity.
-----------

i had my Y chromosome surgically removed!
-the poster formerly known as CDS, now known as strangeDivine's bitch.

Edited by Angel Gone Heathen on 04/04/03 05:57 PM (server time).



LaughingGnoome
(kook)
04/04/03 06:15 PM
Re: Modern Love new [re: Angel Gone Heathen]  

I never acted as if you insulted me, but you seem to me to have pre-set ideas about what the song is about, the song does have a religious element, but it only appears in three lines. You are entitled to your opinions. But if you post them here you should try and back them up, to contribute to the discussions. This is not a place where opinions are merely counted and truths deduced by popular consensus.





"I dont want to eat, its a waste of time" - The Unknown Junkie

LaughingGnoome
(kook)
04/04/03 06:28 PM
Re: Modern Love new [re: Angel Gone Heathen]  

In reply to:

If this song is about Bowie accepting his bisexuality, then why, during the Lets Dance era, did he so vehemently deny it?


The answer might lie in these lines

"I'm standing in the wind
But I never wave bye-bye"

"I'm lying in the rain
But I never wave bye-bye"

He states one thing as fact "Im standing" "Im Lying" , but then he suggests he never made a big fuss about "wave" it or even ackowledged it publically and formally. "But I never wave bye bye". The "but" part contradicts the earlier statements of fact, "im standing", "im lying".

There is also a suggestion that he would like to have been able to publically acknowledge it, when he says "i never wave bye bye but i try i try", the reason why he cant acknowledge it? - "i catch a paper boy, but things dont really change".

To have publically ackowledged some things in that era, would probably not have been good for his image or career, and might have even had legal ramifications, pertaining to settlements he received from gossipy news sources who speculated on his bisexuality.

But you are right in one sense, when i said he was not being a fake, the above would indicate that at that time anyway, he was being one, at least in part.

Oh yeah and finally i would like to add that in the lines

"God and man - no confessions
God and man - no religion
God and man - dont believe in modern love"

God and Man is clearly presented as an alternative to organised religion, he is saying that he believes perhaps in a personal god, who knows Bowies heart and who is honoured by Bowie in turn - in a private way. God and Man emphasises his scorn for religion, which places a barrier between god and man. Ie instead of God and Man we would have God and Church and Man.

revidescent
(wild eyed peoploid)
04/04/03 11:28 PM
Re: Modern Love new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

LaughingGnoome, your interpretation is very, very interesting...

Andrée-Anne
----------
~It's not the side effects of the cocaine
I'm thinking that it must be love...~


LaughingGnoome
(kook)
04/05/03 01:51 PM
Re: Modern Love new [re: revidescent]  

Im glad you like Revidescent. I have to admit to liking the song a lot more now that in my mind i have a fuller idea of what the song is about, that is one of the reasons i like to try and interpret, i like the song more afterwards.



Sysiyo
(thunder ocean)
04/07/03 02:37 AM
Hidden messages new [re: Angel Gone Heathen]  

In reply to:

If this song is about Bowie accepting his bisexuality, then why, during the Lets Dance era, did he so vehemently deny it?


Laughing Gnoome's post went just whee over my head, so let me try to offer another explanation: it's a hidden message. Just like Ricochet is considered by many to be Bowie's apology to his old fans for going so commercial (here), Modern Love could be a hidden message to his old fans, that he actually still is bisexual, though he denies it. Did I say that in the first post allready? I have a feeling I'm repeating myself here.



LaughingGnoome
(kook)
04/07/03 03:17 PM
Re: Hidden messages new [re: Sysiyo]  

In reply to:

it's a hidden message. Just like Ricochet is considered by many to be Bowie's apology to his old fans for going so commercial


I have suggested something similiar in my answer. Some things he cannot admit publically, but by putting it in his lyrics, he can say whatever he wants. After all if a newspaper published his lyrics (to show he is bisexual) they would be giving him even more publicity. So he couldnt lose by nesting the message in the words of a song.

It is a nice kind of gesture, Bowie saying he doesnt owe anything to the press hacks who just want to do dissect him for their own commercial interests. But trying to be truthful to his fans.

In reply to:

Laughing Gnoome's post went just whee over my head



You probably wont understand the last post i made in answer to Angel Gone Heathens question, unless you read all of what i wrote in the previous posts in the thread. I wasnt going to repeat myself all over again either :)

Yes i ignored your advice, i took too seriously. i guess:)

KAdministrator
(thunder ocean)
01/13/11 04:37 PM
Modern Love - 8 years later new [re: K]  

Digging up this old thread, not to display to everyone what an idiot I was back in the day, but because for some reason I've been thinking a lot about this track recently and I'm convinced my original interpretation was wrong (well, no surprise there). The big problem of my original interpretation, I think, was the presumption that people's sexuality is unaltered though-out their lives. It has been quite well proven that this is not the case (and I certainly know this from personal experience). The fact that Bowie said in 1972 that he was bisexual, denied this in 1983 and later on went to say that maybe he was a bit bisexual doesn't mean that he was conciously lying at any point. It's highly likely that in each point of his personal development he said what he felt was true at the time. Hence his "denying" his bisexuality in 1983 might not have been the marketing ploy it's often portrayed but what he genuinely and personally thought.

How this relates to the interpretation of "Modern Love" the song is that if Bowie was conciously using a slang term for gay love in the lyrics, it was not to say he was still bisexual as I originally suggested. Indeed I would argue that the lyrics outright say as much. Modern Love "walks besides [Bowie]" hence not being a part of him, rather a flirtation. Modern Love "walks on by", away from Bowie (or perhaps he's talking about what he percieved as the stigma of his original coming out being continuously with him and out of his control). And of course most tellingly, Bowie outright says that he's "never gonna fall for for modern love" and that he doesn't "believe in modern love".

Now I admit that this interpretation only adresses select lines in the song and if we take Angel Gone Heathen's stance from above and think everything in the song must fit the interpretation this doesn't fly. However, looking at the lyrics of all the songs purposefully written for Let's Dance ("Modern Love", "Let's Dance", "Without You" "Ricochet" and "Shake It"), none of them have lyrics that seem to convey a story but are rather sets of largely disconnected lyrics. If this is indeed the case it's perfectly playsible Bowie put something of what he was thinking at the time into a song without making it fully about that subject.

Trololololololololololololololololo

Pymander
(mortal with potential)
01/14/11 03:35 AM
Re: Modern Love - 8 years later new [re: K]  

For Bowie sex and religion are connected in an inseparable way. "sex and the church".
He is a religious and sexual guy. Almost all his songs are about religion, spiritiality and sex.
Sex is also used as a common metaphor in religion. The union of the male and female as in the "song of songs" from the Bible.



Pymander
(mortal with potential)
01/14/11 04:36 AM
Re: Modern Love - 8 years later new [re: Pymander]  

To complete my message.
So anything that seems to be about sex could be a metaphor for something religious or visa versa and even have both meanings at the same time. How ingenious...



Auntie Prism
(stardust savant)
01/15/11 07:30 PM
This song was, uh, on one of those 80s albums? new [re: Cristian Valentino]  

In reply to:

"Its not really work, its just the power to charm" - Bowie is saying that his experimentations with both sexes were not part of his pop star career, he didnt just do those things to help his career, he is not a fake.


So we've agreed that p2c is someone who is half-closeted, attracts bi rentboys whom he refuses, and attempts to assert his heterosexuality without effect.

Sounds about right.

Oh, and the Gnoome was a douche.



sunspot
(wild eyed peoploid)
01/17/11 01:44 AM
Re: This song was, uh, on one of those 80s albums? new [re: Auntie Prism]  

I've always thought the song was just Bowie reflecting on modern heterosexual relationships circa 1983 and the widespread breakdown of traditional marriage and lifelong relationships.

"There's no sign of life,
It's just the power to charm"

Referring to seduction and sex without any lasting commitment.

"I'm lying in the rain,
But I never wave bye-bye"

Addresses how Bowie continues to feel a connection even after a supposedly casual encounter.

"But I try,
I try"

He keeps having these casual encounters, but they're never really satisfying.

So he's never gonna fall for modern love, although "Church on Time" - traditional marriage - terrifies him, too.

That's how I saw it, anyhow.





KAdministrator
(thunder ocean)
01/18/11 04:59 PM
Re: This song was, uh, on one of those 80s albums? new [re: Auntie Prism]  

In reply to:

Oh, and the Gnoome was a douche.


On that we are deinafely in agreeance.

Trololololololololololololololololo

ghostlove
(stardust savant)
01/18/11 11:40 PM
Re: This song was, uh, on one of those 80s albums? new [re: K]  

I thought Gnoome had some good insight and was really well thought in his interpretation of songs. I don't remember the douchiness as much as you all do but I remember him being driven away, unfortunately, for no real good reason.



power2charm
(cook)
01/24/11 10:14 PM
fags new [re: ghostlove]  

Lord, but these interpretations are a tortured load of old SHIT.

The chorus describes Modern Love, which is not homosexuality, btw, but rather more generally the sexual hedonism that arose in the late 60s and 70s - wife swapping, open marriages, school girl panties sold in Japanese vending machines, and the like. Really, the idea that one can be happy without love so long as there is plenty of sex.

The chorus lays out the dynamics of Modern Love and the metaphysical journey it inspires in the song's speaker:

Walks beside me, walks on by, ie, unsatisfactory to the speaker.
Gets me to the church on time, ie, causes him to seek meaning in religion.
Terrifies me, makes me party, ie, religion, too, is unsatisfactory, retreat to hedonism!
Puts my trust in God and Man, ie, still feeling empty? Have a go at humanism.
No confession, no religion, don't believe in Modern Love reiterates the vacuous nature of the loveless existence.

Leading up to the chorus are simply short statements of ennui: Things don't really change in a world commanded by those who profit via the power to charm. The speaker has looked behind the wizard's curtain and found Oz lacking. Imagine someone who once thought Andy Warhol was brilliant but then a decade later began to have misgivings that it was just a fucking soup can competently rendered by a fortunate idiot.

That's the gist of Modern Love. And though there isn't much explicit reference to aging, I'd posit that Bowie was thinking about growing older at this point in his life and that is felt in the song with the whole "nothing new under the sun" vibe. Bowie at 36 suddenly wanted to make a shitload of money, to be a celebrity, to be well accepted by the mainstream. Something about the way he'd done things for the previous five years - years we fans consider a creative zenith for him - dissatisfied him. If you accept this, then Modern Love could be construed as a buoyant farewell to the creative dead end the Berlin trilogy represented. In some regards, he may have feared Warzawa was an aural Campbell's Soup can and felt a compulsion to break free from it.

____
Kid, you've paid your dues...dues and dues. ~J. Tweedy

Auntie Prism
(stardust savant)
01/25/11 04:03 PM
I've now made three fag posts in a row new [re: power2charm]  

Yes, I can't see the 'modernness' of 'modern love' referring to sexual orientation, since I'm sure Bowie would have considered orientations to be ancient; rather, it refers to new sexual practices (… of the '60s and '70s).

In reply to:

Bowie at 36 suddenly wanted to make a shitload of money, to be a celebrity, to be well accepted by the mainstream. Something about the way he'd done things for the previous five years - years we fans consider a creative zenith for him - dissatisfied him.


I've always read the song's opening lines—'[Knowing] when to stay in, get things done'—as a declaration of a new work ethic, one which involved adapting his creative resources/persona into a new direction for the '80s.



forgetthatim50
(kook)
04/03/11 00:10 AM
Re: Modern Love new [re: K]  

does george merideths' feature length poem Modern Love have anything to do with this?




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